NH3 concentrations below the current critical level affect the epiphytic macrolichen communities – Evidence from a Northern European City

Manninen S., Jääskeläinen K., Stephens A., Iwanicka A., Tang S. & van Dijk N.
Science of the Total Environment
877: 162877 [11 p.]
Acidophytic, oligotrophic lichens on tree trunks are widely considered to be the most sensitive biota to elevated concentrations of atmospheric ammonia (NH3). We studied the relationships between measured NH3 concentrations and the composition of macrolichen communities on the acidic bark of Pinus sylvestris and Quercus robur and the base-rich bark of Acer platanoides and Ulmus glabra at ten roadside and ten non-roadside sites in Helsinki, Finland. NH3 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations were higher at the roadside than non-roadside sites indicating traffic as the main source of NH3 and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The diversity of oligotrophs on Quercus was lower at the roadside than non-roadside sites, while that of eutrophs was higher. The abundance and presence of oligotrophic acidophytes (e.g., Hypogymnia physodes) decreased with increasing NH3 concentration (2-year means = 0.15–1.03 μg m−3) especially on Q. robur, while those of eutrophic/nitrophilous species (e.g., Melanohalea exasperatula, Physcia tenella) increased. The abundance of some nitrophytes seemed to depend only on bark pH, i.e., their abundances were highest on Ulmus, which had the highest average bark pH. Overall, the results of lichen bioindicator studies may depend on tree species (bark pH) and lichen species used in calculating indices describing the air quality impact. Nevertheless, Quercus is recommended to be used to study the impact of NH3 alone and in combination with NOx on lichen communities, because the responses of both oligotrophic acidophytes and eutrophic species can already be observed at NH3 concentrations below the current critical level. Keywords: Ammonia; Acidophytes; Nitrophytes; Nitrogen dioxide; Bark pH; Roadside.
Friday, 21 July 2023 01:27